Tough guys need a break sometimes. Since men are often encouraged from an early age to suppress their emotions, it can significantly and detrimentally affect their emotional intelligence. Studies show this can affect their earning power as well. So how do you fix that?
Dr. Audra Horney, a Mesa, Arizona-based psychologist, says her clientele is mostly men who need to find a safe space to cry, unload, process and delete some of the emotional turmoil of a divorce. In this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio hears from a therapist in the trenches with men, who are finding it's okay for them to seek mental health assistance through a particularly trying time.
Dr. Audra can be found online at Modern Therapy AZ.
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soberlink.com/modern. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast.
I'm your host, Billie Tarascio, owner of Modern Law, co-owner of Win Without Law School. And on today's episode, I'm joined by a local therapist who specializes in therapy for men. Dr. Audra Horney, welcome to the show.
Audra Horney: [00:01:00] Thank you so much for having me. I'm really, really excited to be here.
Billie Tarascio: Yeah, so I'm excited to have you here too.
So you are a therapist for men. You don't hear that a lot. You don't hear a lot of, a lot of therapists that really focus on working with men. Can you tell me what made you decide to go in that direction?
Audra Horney: Sure. Um, well, I've been in the field for a while and it's the work I was doing anyway. I feel like this, this population, these clients ke kept finding me, um, whether it be an individual therapy group therapy, and they're the clients that I've really enjoyed working with the most.
Um, and so as I've continued to hone my own specialization and marketed more publicly what I'm able to offer, I was realizing also that not only is it not common to see therapists specialized in, in therapy for men mm-hmm. When you see it, it's often a male therapist. Mm-hmm. And so, although in the [00:02:00] field it is a, a female dominated field as psychologists and therapists and there are plenty of female therapists out there who are therapists for women, for moms.
Supporting that population. I wasn't seeing men represented as broadly as I felt like they deserve to be. Despite the fact that I was doing this work, I was seeing these clients. And so it motivated me to be more public in the fact that forward facing and the fact that this is the work that I'm doing, these are the clients I'm seeing, here's what's helping.
I am a safe therapist for men. Um, and so if, if. Therapy already is something that's hard for a lot of men to venture into. Um, although sometimes men do wanna see a male therapist and feel comfortable there, a lot of men do seek out a female therapist because it feels a little bit safer, maybe a little bit less vulnerable to express these concerns with a woman.
And I wanted to make sure that those men out there looking for a therapist we're able to find someone who felt like a good fit and could meet them where they are.
Billie Tarascio: Mm-hmm. Now many of [00:03:00] our audience are either going through a Divorce or are dealing with complex co-parenting relationships or struggling with their relationships with their children now that they're in two households.
Is that something that you have experience with?
Audra Horney: Absolutely all the time. I think that therapy can be such a safe place for men, and I'm gonna speak generally during this conversation as men versus women, but this. It's not all men, it's not all women. Mm-hmm. I can relate to a lot of these experiences my male clients have, but frequently for men who are going through, like you said, a separation or Divorce, co-parenting struggles, I, I see a lot of barriers that get in their way from having the support that they most deserve.
Through those time periods. So one is, you know, we're, we often socialize men, or men feel expected to be independent, be self-sufficient, you know, the, the sayings be a man, suck it up, deal with it on your own. And so that right there, you're going through this [00:04:00] major life circumstance, but you're being.
Expected to handle it. Right? So there's that internalized barrier of, I've gotta figure this out on my own. This may be tough, but I can't show that. And then beyond that, there's also a concern that and a felt experience that if they do go to someone, are they gonna judge me if I show up and I talk to my buddy, or it's, I talk to my, my brother about, I'm really struggling, that I'm feeling sad, that I'm feeling disconnected from my kids, that I'm really worried about how this is gonna play out.
How are those emotions going to be received from someone? And unfortunately, a lot of the men that I've worked with have had negatively reinforcing experiences there. They'll try to go to someone and then they didn't seem like they knew how to handle it. They got freaked out that I started crying or they didn't know how to help.
And so that turns them off. And so therapy can be such a helpful space where I'm coming in and I don't have the [00:05:00] same skin in the game that your parents might, or that your siblings might, or your best buddies might. I can be there for you and care about you, but offer you the unbiased feedback and support that is really hard to find elsewhere.
Billie Tarascio: How long do men usually stay in therapy with you?
Audra Horney: That's such a great question. Um, it really depends. I'd say that on average when someone is going through, uh, a life transition, you know, it, it depends on at what point they come in to see me. So maybe I should start there. Mm-hmm. Frequently, because men have been socialized to figure things out on their own.
I'm often a last resort. So they've tried to talk to someone, they, maybe they've tried to talk it through with you. Maybe they've tried to hold it in and bottle it up themselves. Mm-hmm. Maybe they've even been to their primary care doctor 'cause they're having stress, stomach aches, panic attacks. They can't figure it out.
And [00:06:00] then, then they finally reach me. They've maybe been struggling with this for a long time. The relief that I see clients feel at that first session is so significant. Just sitting down on my couch and having someone look at them and honestly ask, what's going on? How you doing? Mm-hmm. Immediately you feel some relief there.
Mm-hmm. And then I'd say that on average, if you're engaged in therapy consistently, I'd say for two months, you can feel significant relief and progress through that. Wow. With, with anything. Therapy is just like you, you, you get out of it what you put into it. Right. Right. But I am an incredibly active collaborative therapist, so therapy sessions with me are not just event session, it's not just about airing it out.
I see therapy as such an investment, it's an emotional investment. It's a financial investment, it's a logistical investment. This is a hard thing to prioritize. Mm-hmm. So I take that incredibly serious with, [00:07:00] seriously with my clients, and I see it as my job from that initial meeting. Mm-hmm. To start offering feedback.
Strategies mm-hmm. And skills that you can apply immediately walking out of the office. Mm-hmm. So, I'm not suggesting that after two months problem solve, you're fixed, you're perfect, go on and live your merry life. It also depends how much you're bringing in. Right. If it's an acute incident, yeah. We can get through that and we can help you make progress.
If you're coming in after years and years of bottling things up, it's probably gonna take a little bit longer to peel back the layers. Mm-hmm. Um, but I, I think sometimes therapy, therapy can feel like this. Very daunting, unknown, like nebulous of, okay, I'm entering therapy. When does that end? Sure. What I encourage clients to do is take it four sessions at a time, after every four sessions, if you're still.
Feeling comfortable with your therapist and you feel like, okay, like I, I don't dread seeing this person. They seem like [00:08:00] they get it every four sessions. Check in with yourself. How's it going? Does this feel like it's productive? What have I learned? What am I getting out of it? What feels a little bit different?
And then commit to four more sessions. Treat it almost like therapy packs going. Got it. Four packs at a time. Reassessing as I go and seeing, okay, if I accomplish that goal, great. I could probably handle this on my own. Are there other things I wanna work on in therapy? You know, I think it's, it makes the, how long does it take question difficult.
How long do, how much do you wanna work through? How much support would you like to get? For some clients, it's very time limited. For other clients, therapy is a really great ongoing self-care support.
Billie Tarascio: Sure, that makes sense. Who is better suited and or, um, what are the advantages of group therapy versus individual
Audra Horney: therapy?
Sure. I think both can be so helpful. Um, I think that if you've never been in therapy before, starting with individual therapy might feel a little [00:09:00] bit safer to start. Hmm. Get, get your legs underneath you and get a sense of what's going on for you, because then I think group therapy can feel even more productive and you can be an even more active participant in it.
Um, the, the counter to that is that right now, especially in these last few years, Support groups. Group therapy more traditionally has become so much more accessible because so much is online. And so if you can hop on a free support group and just be a very passive engaged listener, go for it. Don't turn on your video, don't share your name, show up, and just get a, get a sense of the vibe there.
Great. Um, if you really feel like I need. Specific support for what I'm going through and I need someone to listen to me 'cause I have no one else here for me, individual therapy is gonna get you the most bang for your buck. Group therapy is gonna [00:10:00] great. Be a great space to validate and normalize your experience to recognize I am not alone in this.
We are not alone in anything. We all, when we struggle the go-to is nobody gets it. Nobody's felt this way. No one's been through this the way that I have, and trust me, the thousands and thousands of hours I've spent with clients, we are all incredibly unique and we are all so similar. Group therapy can be such a transformative process to realize, oh my God, I'm hearing the things that I only say to myself at night.
Um, so I think that it could depend on the person if you are completely opposed to therapy, okay, then pop into a free support group. Take it from there. If you really want individualized support and you're nervous about what that might feel like, start with individual therapy, maybe that'll feel a little bit
Billie Tarascio: less vulnerable.
Got it. Okay. And how does pricing work for group versus individual
Audra Horney: therapy? Sure. Group [00:11:00] therapy can tend to be a lot more accessible for people. You're gonna see three support groups available. Um, I think that when you're looking at pricing for group therapy, oftentimes it's going to be, it's going to reflect who's facilitating the group.
So if it is a general support group that might be peer led, it may be someone with little to no official training. Hopefully some lived experience. They're gonna be there to facilitate the group, to make sure that there are positive group interactions happening, that we stay on task and on time, and just to make sure we adhere to these really healthy group norms.
Maybe not much beyond that in terms of intervention and real strategic skill building or support. And then you're likely going to see groups that may cost a little bit more money, but are going to be run by someone who has the skills and training to guide you through a group in a more structured.
Potentially productive manner, depending on what sort of support you're looking for. Um, and then [00:12:00] individual therapy is generally going to be a more expensive option because it, it's, it's like, if you think about it like a, an exercise group training or personal training, you're gonna pay a little bit more for that personal training because it is one-on-one undivided attention.
You know, your goals are always going to be focused on completely. You're not having to share that time. That makes perfect
Billie Tarascio: sense. Do you have a specific therapeutic modality that you like to follow?
Audra Horney: I do. So I generally am a more eclectic therapist in that I am evidence-based. The work, the interventions I provide are supported by research.
I. And I am not so by the book that I am, you know, chapter one, here's what we're doing. Chapter two, here's where we go. I'm treating you like an individual. Your personality, your goals, your your readiness. For therapy and we're working together to identify a treatment plan that's going to be most helpful.
Um, so overall I [00:13:00] describe myself as an, an emotion-focused relational therapist, which means I believe our emotions are incredibly vital messengers that send I important feedback to us on how we're doing and what we need. Emotional intelligence is such a critical part of our quality of life and our success in life and relationships, and I'm relational in that.
I view the therapeutic dynamic as a relationship, and so it is a different type of relationship than we have in our personal life, but it's still me, my client, interacting human beings, feedback, collaboration, and back and forth, and I think there's so much that can be learned and modeled through that dynamic.
Billie Tarascio: Awesome. Do, are your services all in person or online or hybrid?
Audra Horney: I appreciate you asking that. Um, because especially these last few years, we've been able to be more, um, flexible and accessible. So I, I offer hybrid uh, services. So I have an [00:14:00] in-person location in Phoenix. It's in the uptown sort of neighborhood.
So I can see clients who are local, in person. I offer virtual services as well, so I can see clients through Zoom. Um, so clients who are local to Phoenix often engage with me in a more of a, a, a hybrid as we go type of format. So I love meeting with you in person the first time. If we can just to sit in the room with someone, you can sometimes get a lot more about their experience than you can always get through a computer screen.
Then I want therapy to be, uh, accessible and not a burden to your schedule and your life. So with kids, with work, with life, sometimes hopping on a Zoom call in between meetings or just at the start of your day and cutting out that travel time is so much more accessible. Um, and so I have clients really hop back and forth.
Um, and then for clients who are actually outside of the state of Arizona, There as a [00:15:00] psychologist. There are laws now passed in about 40 states where I'm able to see clients virtually for telehealth if they're interested in working with me, even if they aren't Arizona residents.
Billie Tarascio: That makes a lot of sense because I don't actually understand, you know, it's not like psychology changes from state to state.
I do understand as lawyers, the laws are different in each state, and so you gotta know those. But you know, we're, our problems don't, don't change depending on where we
Audra Horney: live. No. Which is why I tell my clients that, you know, packing up and leaving and starting fresh can sound really great. Mm-hmm. But you usually take your baggage with you.
Sure. Yeah. It's
Billie Tarascio: all coming. Yeah. Let's. Let's, let's, I would really like our listeners, especially our male listeners, to leave this episode with some real value. So can you give them some general tips that you find help most men who are dealing with a Divorce or co-parenting or separation issue?
Audra Horney: Yes. So what I experience from a lot of my [00:16:00] clients is, like I said, I'm emotion focused.
And so with so many men, there is a real limit that they experience in the, the emotions they're allowed to have or the permission there is. And so I see men wanting to be stoic, and then I see men getting angry and it can be difficult to find any emotions in between. I don't know, Billie, if, if you experience this on your end of things, uh, a, a more limited range of emotions at times from some of the men that you work with,
Billie Tarascio: Yeah, I mean, we're involved in incredibly intimate periods of time going through very, very personal details of people's lives. But, um, certainly frustration and anger can be dominant emotions for my male clients.
Audra Horney: Yeah. And I think that is, that is such an incomplete picture of the actual lived experience.
There's so much pain. [00:17:00] This is, this is a, this is a significant loss that people are going through, and so that is one of the main things that I help my clients understand is that beyond this being a, a Divorce or separation or custody arrangement, this is a loss. This is a grieving process. And being able to understand it that way, I think often gives permission for a broader scope of emotions to be felt.
And then from that, a more, more diverse set of coping strategies. So if we think about this like, this is a significant loss you're going through, what other significant losses can you draw from in your life and how did you get through that? What sort of support did you need? What was that transition like for you?
How did you reach out or how did you hope people would reach out for you? So being able to understand the significance from that scope can be incredibly helpful and validating for someone who's going through this and then especially validating for, for, for men [00:18:00] who, um, may not feel like they have the support in their life that is beyond maybe working with you and, and being in the, in the trenches with them.
Outside of those meetings with their, their attorney, um, outside of those most intimate moments, how much room do they feel like they have to be in pain through this? Um, and so I view therapy as such a, a, a vital space like such. It can be such a, a, a helpful, supportive space through that, where there's permission to.
To just be in whatever form that is. And sometimes that's anger and sometimes that's resentment and those emotions, I'm not suggesting those emotions are not valid. Those can be incredibly valid, important emotions to process and cope with. And what else is there too? Because they deserve to be full humans through this experience just as much as [00:19:00] anyone else.
Billie Tarascio: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show and for sharing your insights and your, um, availability with our local male audience. We will make sure that people have the ability to, uh, connect with you via your website and whatever your preferred contact information is. I've really enjoyed this episode and if you all have enjoyed this episode, don't forget to download it.
Share it with your friends, send it to your. Um, male friends who are, you know, whoever, whatever's going on with them. If they could use a therapist, send it on to them, rate it. And if you know someone who would be a good guest on the Modern Divorce podcast, send them our way. Thank you so much, Dr. Horney, for coming on today.
Audra Horney: Thanks so much. It was a pleasure. Bye bye.
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